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School of Biological and Chemical Sciences

Our teaching interest group one year in

Our School formed the Teaching Interest Group and Education Research (TIGER), a forum for anyone involved in teaching and curriculum development, over a year ago. Since then, TIGER has held three events, formed an executive committee, and supported teaching activity in our School and beyond. Dr Rachel O'Callaghan, TIGER founder and chair, shares her thoughts on TIGER's first year.

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Staff at TIGER's first event

The idea for TIGER first came about in March 2015 – I can’t take credit for the acronym! I wanted to create a teaching interest group that would support and encourage best practice in teaching within the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences (SBCS). To me, communication in teaching is hugely important and I felt this was something we could improve by trying to create a community of people invested and enthusiastic about this idea. I was heartened to receive a huge amount of support for this initiative and many colleagues were keen to be involved. Once the seed was planted a committee was formed with representatives from all departments within the school, the schools teaching support officer and a learning technologist from the E-learning unit.

Dr James Pickering speaking at a TIGER event
Dr James Pickering speaking at a TIGER event

The priorities this year were to set up a teaching seminar series, organise collaborative workshops that focussed on topics of interest to staff that would also encourage engagement with online learning tools and to create a teaching support network. I feel we have successfully achieved these goals and a whole lot more - we have started to improve and develop both our internal and external partnerships in teaching, something I believe is hugely valuable. We have invited two external speakers to QMUL, Dr James Pickering (winner of the Times Higher Education Most Innovative Teacher of the Year 2014) and Prof David Read (a teaching fellow at the University of Southampton who has received many teaching accolades during his career) who both delivered extremely inspiring and engaging talks. Both talks were recorded by QReview and a blog was written to support each of the video recordings; these have been disseminated via the SBCS internal newsletter and Twitter – recent analysis has revealed that Dr James Pickering’s talk was viewed 290 times! We have organised workshops in partnership with professional services on QMplus quizzes and a member of the committee, Dr Stephen Potts, has also created a hints and tips guide. We are continuing to work on developing a teaching support network to allow staff to share current and innovative teaching practices, to encourage informal peer observations of teaching and to improve the formalised peer observation process within the school.

Ultimately, we hope that TIGER will support continuing professional development in teaching and inform and lead on teaching innovation and learning practices within the school. It has been a really great first year - I think all of us who have participated in TIGER activities have felt very positive about these experiences. I hope that more of you will join us this year - there are more good things to come, watch this space!